Great Scott, Potter, This Is War!
A Harry Potter Fan Fiction by Aaran St Vines
Gratitude goes to my betas, Ozma and Ninkenate. To these two go credit for the readability of this tale.
Disclaimer--- What belongs to J K Rowling is J K Rowling's. Everything left is mine, I guess, but remember the old adage: "There is nothing new under the sun."
1. - The Granger Defense - Defenseless Muggles
Harry Potter fell out of the bed in his sparse room at number 4, Privet Drive shouting "No! No! NO!!" at the top of his lungs.
It was not late at night. Harry had been up all night staring out of the window at nothing. His Uncle Vernon was not pleased with this at all, but it was only two days after the "train station incident" as he called it, when he had to mention it. He hated and despised the humiliating circumstances of that event and its requirement to treat Harry better than ever before.
But even Vernon was frightened by the terror in Harry's voice. The very
portly householder did not fear for Harry, but if he was being attacked up there, would the attackers leave after finishing off "that boy," or would they come down the stairs?
Dudley, the big, strong, and very 'broad' Smeltings boxing champion, rolled out of his chair and hid behind it. The notion that parts of Dudley could be seen on either side of the chair at the same time had somehow eluded him in choosing this hiding place.
It was Aunt Petunia's action that was the most surprising.
She had been in the kitchen preparing dinner. When Harry began shouting, Petunia was just starting to cut vegetables with her sharpest knife. Like a race horse when the starting gun goes off, the horse-faced woman bolted out of the kitchen and was on her way up the stairs before Vernon could sputter, "Petunia?"
She had treated Harry with the most kindness of the three since his eventful
homecoming. During the school year she had often pondered the question: had Harry been telling the truth? Had he saved Dudley's life... er, soul from the dementors? Finally, in February, she had gone up into the attic when Vernon was at work and re-read the original letter from Dumbledore that had accompanied Harry's baby basket - the letter her husband thought
she had destroyed.
With tears in her eyes, she came down from the attic that day believing Harry's story. Relatively speaking, she had been much more civil to Harry than before - she now was outwardly as kind as most people were to complete strangers.
Harry and Aunt Petunia nearly collided at the top of the stairs. Their hearts were already beating as fast as a machine-gun in their chests, and this near collision startled them even more. At the exact moment they both yelled, "What's wrong?" and a second later, after noticing the wand in his hand and the knife in hers, they simultaneously shouted, "Don't point that at me!"
Both took a deep breath and Harry said, "Voldemort is sending Death Eaters to attack the Grangers! I've got to warn them!"
"Who are the Grangers? Are they outside? How do you know this?" These were all good questions. All a bit disjointed, but the woman wielding the knife looked ready to fight, so Harry instinctively included her as a possible ally for the next few moments. (At random times over the weeks to come, he would think about the idea of Aunt Petunia fighting Death Eaters with her sharpest paring knife.)
"You stay up all night boy..." Uncle Vernon had waddled up the stairs fairly quickly.
"Please, Vernon! Now, Harry, who are the Grangers?"
"...you sleep all day..." Uncle Vernon continued, ignoring his wife's interruption.
"That is not helping, Vernon." Petunia's growing impatience was evident in her voice.
"...now you have a bloody afternoon nightmare..."
"SILENCE, VERNON! Tell me quickly, Harry."
For entirely different reasons, both Vernon and Harry were dumbstruck by this outburst. Dudley, still cowering in the den, hunkered down even more when he heard her outburst, squeezing more of himself out into view on both sides of the chair.
Harry spoke in short, rapid-fire sentences. "Hermione Granger is a classmate. Her parents are Muggles like you. They live...well I don't know where, but not too far from Oxford. They're both dentists. I just dreamed Voldemort was sending Death Eaters to their house and to Mr. Granger's office to kill them."
"Boy! All this for a dream..."
"VERNON!" she screamed turning the knife she had been pointing at Harry towards him. He cringed and shrank against the wall with a whimper. That was the last sound he made, except for his ragged breathing.
"Do your dreams warrant investigation?" Harry was even more surprised by her calm, pertinent question. How to explain this?
"I have dreams that are just dreams. Also, Voldemort has used them to mislead me, but I have also saved a life because I saw his evil actions in my dreams. True or false, I have to warn them of the possibility."
"How should we proceed? Would calling the police help? Is there any way I can help?"
Who was this woman talking to him like this? "I...erm...the police will just be more people for the Death Eaters to kill. Muggles can't fight Death Eaters. I s'ppose I should go to Mrs. Fi...go where I can contact Professor Dumbledore or someone who can get Aurors or Magical Law Enforcement officers to the Grangers' aid as quickly as possible."
"Well then, go and save your friends if you can. If there's anything..." she trailed off.
"Thank you, Aunt Petunia!" he half-shouted as he ran out the door.
Harry ran towards Mrs. Figg's house to use the Floo network.
Harry had been wrong about one thing.
It was 4:58 pm. Steph Granger was locking the door to his dental office and turning to take the lift down to the enclosed car park below the medical complex. It had been a long day but the week was over and he and his family were going to spend the next three weeks on holiday in Germany. His daughter, Hermione, had come home from Hogwarts where her friends had said that she was the smartest witch of her generation.
He chuckled with incredulity that soon settled into concern. "My daughter a witch," he mused. That phrase now meant something entirely different from what he had understood when he'd first heard it applied to her by the Hogwarts Letter. There had been odd relief at that time because finally there was a "logical" explanation for the inexplicable occurrences in their family. Until he and his wife had helped Hermione control her temper, they had noticed things breaking a lot and other children skinning their knees quite often. She had always been able to get books off of top shelves when she wanted them and she had sworn she had not climbed up to reach them. An awful lot of her childhood coincidences had suddenly made more sense.
She had always made 'Outstanding' on every graded test and assignment in primary school, with only two exceptions. She viewed each of those 'Exceeds Expectations' as abject failures. Those two subjects were never in question again. Though he had been a very good student, always near the top of his class, his daughter had received her brilliance and her drive for top marks from her mother. Now she was the smartest witch of her generation. That was not exactly how he had always dreamed his little girl would excel.
But excel she had. She had always enjoyed studying and school, but at Hogwarts it was as if she had found her reason for being. She had come home that first year feeling like she had a destiny. Each succeeding summer she had come home even more certain that she was where she ought to be. After her fourth year she had matured well past the youthful enthusiasm of previous summers. Since then she had been a young woman, seemingly with a serious mission - which she would not share with her parents - until the day she had arrived home from finishing her fifth year.
There had been one subject - not an academic subject - in primary school where Hermione had not been a star. Of course Physical Education was graded on a pass/fail basis and Steph Granger had no illusions that his daughter would take after him in that area. He had starred on every team in every sport in school except golf. In his opinion, any activity like golf, where overweight people could do well, could not be a sport at all.
Steph Granger had been a rarity - an athlete who had made very good grades. He had been accepted to two good universities, and there had been talk of some financial assistance based on his athletic abilities, but he had shocked everyone when he went into the army in the ranks. Ten years later, taking longer than he had expected, he had left the army. He had slowly achieved a degree while in the military. Upon leaving, he had enrolled in dental school and paid for it with savings from his soldier's pay and with some academic scholarship help. He wanted to spend all of his time studying and not let his grades suffer by being required on the pitch for so many hours a day.
No, Hermione was never going to be an athlete excelling in sports as he had, but he was disappointed that she had let her running lapse while away at school. For the last two years before Hermione went off to Hogwarts, she had met him for the last mile and then two miles of his daily run. Steph had used the time to cool down and chat with his daughter. She'd enjoyed the running after getting over the initial difficulties. Now, she had lost the physical edge that running had given her. She never had joined him for the strenuous exercises and training he did daily in the Grangers' basement.
Steph had run at least five miles, usually more, every day since the age of ten, except when military service had other activities for him, and except the day of Hermione's birth and the terrifying few days that followed. He had spent those days alternating between crying for joy when he looked at or held his newborn daughter, and crying beside his wife's bed, not knowing if she would pull through from the complications of a wretchedly difficult childbirth.
His wife eventually pulled through and regained all of her former vitality, but Hermione would be their only child. Steph could never be sad about it when he looked at his daughter. His only sadness regarding her had been that he did not understand her new world well at all.
That had all begun to change a few days after the battle of the Department of Mysteries.
It was standing practice at Hogwarts that when a student was admitted to the Infirmary over night, a note would be sent telling the student's parents or guardians what had happened. The Dursleys had sent word back by Harry that they did not care if he was injured or sick, so stop sending the owls unless Harry died or something worse.
The Grangers had received only three such notes in the five years Hermione had attended the school. The first two were from her second year. Her stay while she slowly transformed back from half cat after the Polyjuice Potion incident had been written up as a school prank gone bad and glossed over by Hermione's accompanying letter.
The second notice that year had informed the Grangers that Hermione had been Petrified. Professor McGonagall had visited them within the hour of that owl's delivery. It had been a Saturday, the Quidditch match had been cancelled, and Dumbledore had insisted she go to the Grangers to help explain what had occurred. The Transfigurations teacher had been torn between staying at the school to protect her young lions and going to the Muggle parents who would be confused and distraught. The headmaster had made the decision easier for her.
When, in her fifth year, the third owl message had arrived telling of Hermione's injuries in the Department of Mysteries, it had been sent with two other sealed parchments. There had been a letter from Hermione herself, explaining that she was fine and improving, and trying to make light of the situation.
Dumbledore had sent the third missive with the official infirmary Notice of Extended Stay. He had outlined in some detail what had happened and had told the Grangers that the school owl would stay with them if they wanted to respond with any additional questions or concerns. The headmaster and the parents had corresponded numerous times before the day they had arrived to pick Hermione up outside the barrier to Platform nine and three quarters. Their written discussions evolved from specific questions about the battle to broad and general penned conversations regarding the conditions of the magical world at this juncture. The Headmaster had answered all questions concisely, but completely.
Her parents had said nothing about her injuries at the station or during the trip home, other than a quick 'are you all right,' just as she came off of the train. In the car they had an interesting discussion regarding Hermione's role as a part of the delegation that "encouraged" the Dursleys to improve Harry's treatment during the summer. That conversation with Harry's relations had occurred within earshot of the two dentists. Both parents were appalled at the scraps of home-life horror stories Hermione had pieced together over the years from Harry's brief comments to her and Ron.
When the three Grangers arrived at home, there had been the smell of baked chocolate in the air. Before leaving for the station, Mrs. Granger had set a large tray of walnut-chocolate biscuits in the oven on time bake. Arthur Weasley would have wanted to talk for hours about the concept of time baking, (he never would have guessed Muggles could do that to time) but that was not the discussion in their home that day.
Mr. Granger had taken Hermione's trunk upstairs and in a few minutes she had come back down to the kitchen. The fresh baked goods were on a plate, ready for consumption, and the tea was poured. Her father said, "Please sit down, young lady. We've a lot to discuss."
Flashback to 1968
"All right, you young pups. You have been in for a year and you think you are the big cocks in the barnyard. Somehow you've staggered through our
basic training and now you are in the bleedin' SAS. You think you are ten feet tall, six inches off the ground, and bullet-proof. One of you is the bleedin' enlisted knife champion of the bleedin' b'tallion.
"Well, I've picked up better stuff on the bottom of my brogans when I wasn't too careful in a back alley.
"You! The arrogant young pup with a pie-eatin grin on yer mug. Stand and pull your blade."
Out of his left sleeve his right hand pulled a knife almost a foot long. It was a Fairbairn, a street fighting knife designed in the 1930's by a Hong Kong chief inspector of detectives for his men who fought the Tong gangs. The Fairbairn, legend has it, was the favorite knife of Major David Stirling, founder of the SAS in WWII. The sleeve knife holder was a lesser-known part of the legend of the knife.
The sergeant shook his head in disgust. "Ruination of our service to let you young snotties carry a Fairbairn even if you are a knife champion. I comes along when a man had to see battle a'fore they lets 'im carry one. And in a bleedin' sleeve holder no less. Thinks he's soddin' Stirlin' hisself re-in-CAR-nate." He was muttering this tirade to himself, but with a raised voice so all could hear.
The young soldier was standing easy but wary. He was supremely confident in his abilities but he was no fool. During initial SAS training, he had been surprised by his hand-to-hand instructor. The instructor had acted as if he had a head cold and was six inches shorter and two stone lighter. The little sergeant had the young soldier on his back with his foot at his throat in less than three seconds.
That had been day one of SAS training, but being caught unprepared had never happened to him again. He had learned from that first embarrassment and was now not only the battalion knife champion, but tops in all other forms of close-quarters combat.
This sergeant was six inches taller than him and over three stone heavier if he was an ounce. But he looked big and lumbering. And the younger man had his Fairbairn. He had seen it in a pawnbroker's window and had had to have it. It was WWII issue and had been well maintained. The sleeve holder had been six pounds extra and well worth it.
"Put a protective blade cover on your bleedin' toad sticker. I don't want you holdin' back." When the cover was in place the sergeant smeared axle grease on the blade cover. "There. Iffen you cuts me we'll all know." The sergeant's uniform was immaculately clean and starched.
"And I'll fight you with these." He pulled out a deck of cards. The whole mob laughed but the young soldier was still cautious. The sergeant shuffled the cards and made two card fans in his hands.
"Okay, prepare yerself. Five. Four. Three. Two."
The young knife expert tried to take a step back but the fanned cards were flung with such force into his face that he had three small cuts on his right cheek. The younger man took a step forward to slash at the big man but the sergeant fell forward and stomped on his foot. As the young soldier lowered his hand to comfort his toes, the sergeant knocked the blade flying with his left hand and punched him in the nose with his right. The punch did not break his nose but there was blood. Instead of in the usual three seconds, the "former" knife expert was on the ground in seven seconds.
"You okay there, laddie?" The sergeant offered him a hand to stand. The young boy pivoted on the ground and was on his feet and backing away in moments.
The sergeant roared with laughter. "That, lads, is the first youngin' to do that in fifteen years. He's also the first one to NOT be thrown arse over teakettle." He turned to the young man with his hand extended. "Truce!" A little closer, as they shook hands, the sergeant said in confidence, "Last year at the championship, finest knife fightin' I've seen since I won it in '42."
The bloodied but vindicated young soldier took his place with the rest of the men. The sergeant paced as he taught.
"Here's what you must always remember in hand-to-hand when you face a better armed opponent.
"One. Close with the enemy. Two. Anything is a weapon. Three. Hurt 'em to distract 'em. Four. Hurt 'em to disarm 'em. Five. Kill 'em! This is war! It is literally you or them!"
"Now, repeat that after me. One...."
The three had talked for over six hours. They had talked through the preparation and eating of dinner and still they had kept talking. At first, Hermione had spoken the most, with her parents stopping her narrative with a few questions to clarify a detail here or there.
Eventually, the conversation flow had become a general question and answer period. Hermione was not really surprised at the depth and perceptiveness of the questions they had asked. After all, she had to have received her intelligence from somewhere. They asked very specific questions about a host of related issues, but the most unexpected queries were concerned with the actual Death Eater fighting methods and battle tactics. She remembered her father had been some sort of medical orderly or something in the army, but he had never wanted to discuss it. Those experiences might be why he had asked those specific questions, but her mother had questions of equal insight and clarity on the same subject.
Hermione knew that both of her parents were as inquisitive as she was. It never occurred to her that the questions posed by her mild and gentle father and mother could come from anywhere else but their curiosity.
Though his daughter did not know it, there was little that frightened Steph Granger. Initially, Hermione's description of the battle she had been in had scared him to no end. In the summer before Hermione's second year at Hogwarts, the dentist had observed the fight at Flourish and Blott's between Arthur Weasley and Lucius Malfoy. Mr. Granger had felt useless. He had held the impression that there was nothing he could do to help the red haired man he had liked immediately. Most Muggles, upon learning that the magical world actually did exist, assumed that everything they knew of magic from fairy tales and fiction was true. Much of it was, but some of it had been placed in Muggle lore and writings as disinformation. Most witches and wizards wanted Muggles to think that their world did not exist at all, so the outlandish was included to make its existence "impossible."
Now, war, actual fighting with serious wounds and death had touched his daughter. And it had happened right here in England, not in some foreign jungle or rice paddy. The innate desire of a father to protect his family rose up within him. And the answers to those specific questions that night gave him hope that he was not as helpless as he had feared. He made sure that the questions he and his wife asked regarding fighting were interspersed with inquiries on other subjects. His daughter was brilliant and keenly observant, and he took great pains to hopefully keep his biggest secret from her.
He would eventually fail.
Harry ran out of the house and straight to Mrs. Figg's. He did not even consider using Hedwig because he felt for sure that if he had overheard a real assignment from Voldemort, the Grangers would be dead before the owl could reach anyone. It did not occur to him to call to his minder. (Mundungus Fletcher had seen Harry fall asleep for the second afternoon in a row, so he "just nipped out for a quick cuppa," as he would later explain, hands wringing in contrition.)
Harry took the steps in one leap and started banging on Mrs. Figg's front door. He considered crashing through it. He hoped she had a Floo network connection or some way to communicate this summer. She hadn't the previous summer and Harry had heard talk of "doing something about that" as Order of the Phoenix members had discussed his narrow escape from dementors right there in Little Whinging.
Mrs. Figg opened the door and started right in on her feeble cat-lady routine, but Harry barged right past her and into the sitting room, shutting the door over her shoulder. She quickly looked out of the windows and then pulled down the shades. She did not want a neighbor to report to the police that "that terrifying child that goes to St. Brutus's Secure Center for Incurably Criminal Boys" had forced her door.
She straightened a little from her hunched over state. "What is it, Harry, more dementors?" the Squib asked with genuine fear.
In record time he told her what had transpired and begged for some means of communication with someone, anyone who might help. She had heard about the events leading up to the battle of the Department of Mysteries. She had heard about Harry being deceived. "Harry, are you sure this isn't...?"
"AAUUGHH! You can have me locked away at St. Mungo's after we call for help. Seconds count! If I am right, and if you delay one more moment and the Aurors arrive too late, I'll hex you into next year! What can we do?"
Mrs. Figg physically shrank before his verbal assault, but realized he was absolutely correct. She moved as quickly as she could. She wasn't playing a little old lady; she was a little old lady. She grabbed two jars from her mantel muttering to no one in particular, "Hotter than blue blazes but I keep this fire going just for...." She threw in an imprecise amount of the regular green Floo powder and then measured an exact amount from the other jar. "Now the Secure Floo Powder..." she continued to mutter.
When the green fire turned red, she stuck her head in the fireplace and yelled, "Twelve Grimmauld Place. Potter emergency! Come to Figg's!"
As she stepped back, almost right behind her tumbled out Kingsley Shacklebolt, Bill Weasley, and Remus Lupin. All three fell over each other onto the floor. Mrs. Figg barely dodged the sprawling bodies. Mad-Eye Moody walked out of the fireplace and to the side of the entangled trio two seconds later. They were all up on their feet in short order. They all proceeded to verbally fall all over themselves asking her and Harry why they had called.
Moody slammed his walking stick on the end table near the couch, bringing instant silence. "Potter, what's wrong?"
Harry rushed to explain but at just over two-thirds of the way, Remus Lupin interrupted, "Harry, is there any possibility that this is another trap set for you?"
This hurt Harry but he understood why he had to be asked. Moody spoke before Harry drew breath to respond, "We cannot afford to gamble that this is not true. This is war! We are honor bound to go to their aid instantly. Where were they Harry? All at home or on holiday now?"
Harry did not think about how well informed Moody was. "Voldemort sent two Death Eaters to their dental office and two to their home, wherever those locations are. Hermione owled me that her father was working today, and her mother was taking her shopping this morning. The two of them will be at home this afternoon and all three will be there this evening, packing. They leave on holiday in the morning."
Moody had a notepad open before Harry had finished speaking. "Kingsley and Remus go to their home, at number thirty-seven, Beckett Court off of Beckett St. in Oxford. Bill, you come with me to the Manor Road Medical Center six miles east of Oxford. We will Apparate to the underground car park to the back west wall. It is dark there. Potter, any idea what time they will attack?"
"Voldemort said to coordinate their attacks at 5:00 this afternoon."
Moody had his pocket watch in his hand before Harry completed the sentence. He looked up at them and said, "5:02." All four Disapparated within one second of his last syllable.
Flashback to the Fall of 1977
"Who is that crustacean two rows over, Syl?"
"Quiet, Meg, he'll hear you. Besides, he's rather fit, don't you think? He's not that old and quite dashing, really."
"Are you daft? Look, he has gray hair! And his hair is so short. I bet he is retired military. He is at least late thirties." Meg's Irish accent came out stronger when she was joking and when she was angry. She was both right now.
The class ended and Meg and Syl walked out under the burden of their class assignment. Behind them they heard in a clear yet not loud voice, "Twenty-nine."
They stopped and turned. "I am only twenty-nine-years-old. I am probably not more than eight or nine years older than either of you. I was in the regiment, but I de-mobbed after ten years service to become a dentist."
Meg did not like soldiers. Before her friend could speak, Meg was in high dudgeon. "The regiment. The regiment. What were you? Coldstream Guards?" The venom could be heard now as well as the Irish lilt. "The South Essex? Perhaps even the bloody SAS?"
Syl was 5' 8" and Meg was only slightly shorter, but the foot-wear of the time added two inches to both of the young ladies. He was 5' 10" but because of his erect bearing, he looked taller. Though he did have a very
erect bearing, when she said "SAS," he, if anything, stood even more erect and proud. This was not going to work out as he had probably hoped.
"The SAS," Meg spat. "The bloody, bleeding, blinding SAS! Your kind killed my Uncle Caley! Why you are..." Meg's Uncle Caley had taught her how to swear and she honored his memory at that moment.
Meg dropped her books and ran at him, fists up. Of course he had
been in the SAS, so this attacking female was easy enough to handle. Syl, standing open-mouthed and speechless, was surprised at how gently he held her wrists and turned her so her kicks were ineffectual.
As Meg softened into a puddle of tears and drooped in his hands, her friend came up and took her from him. As he turned to leave he quietly stated, "I am sorry. I was never stationed in Ireland." Syl knew he meant his apology, but Meg wailed louder with his words and their contact with him was over.
When they were next in a class together, he had moved as far away from Meg as he could, and likewise in all the other classes they shared. Dental School was not that big and distance within a classroom was their only hope of not being near each other.
"Hermione, please move your wand to the table. I need the space on the counter to prepare dinner." Mrs. Granger realized that was one more strange sentence to add to the many strange sentences she had constructed since the summer of her daughter's eleventh year. And of course the conversations over the past twenty-four to thirty hours had been the most improbable.
She did not know what bothered her more, her daughter's account of what sounded like a horror fantasy movie, or her husband's grim mood due to that conversation. It had worried her so much when she had seen Steph pull down his dusty old chest from the closet. But she had known he was right in doing so.
The summer after her first year, Hermione had at first kept her wand on her person at all times, just because she could. She had explained how she was not allowed to do magic away from school except in an emergency, but she also said that she felt funny without it. She had left it in her room more and more often as that summer progressed. After her second and third years she kept the wand in her room most of the time, but took it with her on their holiday trips.
After her fourth year, she had been with her parents for less than a month and she had her wand near at hand at all times. It had even been on the side of the water basin when she had flossed and cleaned her teeth.
This year, they
had insisted that she carry it with her always. And that wasn't the only precaution.
Mrs. Granger was a runner like her husband, running not always as far but almost as often as he did. She did not go to their basement as often as he did, but she was there with him several times a week. And she did a number of toning exercises during the day at the office and when she was at home. She had never forgotten her extensive training, none of it.
The doorbell rang and Hermione shouted that she would answer it. Mrs. Granger felt a fearful chill go up her back. Women's intuition or whatever it was, the shiver was instinctual, and Steph had taught her that feelings of foreboding should only be ignored after the situation had been checked thoroughly.
Author's Note -
For those who do not know, the Special Air Service (SAS) of the British Army is one of the finest special tactics, small unit, fighting organizations in the world. They are the only organization that can rival the US Navy Seals in my opinion. (Now the Seals and the SAS are angry at me.)
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